After taking cipro for two days and not feeling better, I realized my irrational fear of doctors here was probably doing more harm than good so I sucked it up and went to the local clinic- Clinica San Antonio. I keep trying to find some kind of ‘personal’ doctor here where you could make an appointment and they would keep a file on you but I haven’t found anything like that yet. Although there are some fancier clinics here (mostly foreign- Japanese or Italian), I thought I’d go the Joe-schmoe (or Josef-schmosef) route and see what kind of service you could get for 30 bs (about $4.50). (I’m not that sick.)
When I arrived they wrote my name down and took my blood pressure, temperature and weight and then said “ahorita” and asked me to sit down. I could write a whole post about ahorita but basically it means we’ll get to it as soon as we can, which in this case meant an hour. So I sat and read some and watched the waiting room fill up with adults and babies all waiting but few actually being taken into offices. The waiting room was an assortment of non-matching chairs in a tiled room with open doors on every side and people constantly walking though. There was a small television in one corner showing a ridiculously bad TV show from the 70′s? 80′s? I considered the plastic versus cloth seats in terms of sanitary-ness and comfort. I went with cloth but tried not to touch it. Through one of the doors off of the waiting room I could see patients in a row in beds. Behind a half-glass wall three nurses were scurrying about doing intake and possibly lab work.
There appeared to only be one doctor doing “consultas” and finally he came out and called my name. (They have a LOT of difficulty with Kent because the K sound isn’t really used in Bolivia, the only thing that makes sense to them is Quent or Kenis. Also they look at you funny when you say you only have one last name. In this culture that means you don’t have a father) Anyway so I go in, show him my test results, he asks my symptoms and I tell him about the cipro. He barely spends two seconds looking at the test results starts scribbling some stuff and asks me lay on the table. I lay down and he feels my stomach for pain and talks in very fast spanish to me about dietary restrictions and asks if my stomach has gotten bigger. I wasn’t sure it he was referring to bloating, because I have been very bloated lately. While I was considering my answer he squirts some gel on my stomach and before I know it I’m having an ultrasound! Apparently that was his way to ask if I was pregnant and since I didn’t answer convincingly he gave me a preg-test. And possibly looked at my stomach too? At that point I was so shocked and still trying to understand him rattling on in spanish I couldn’t put together a “what are you doing?” question in my head. I got about 50% of it- eat light meals and no soda. And I’m not pregnant.
So then he writes three prescriptions for me, never actually tells me what’s wrong with me (or actually the results of the ultrasound which I inferred), or what the drugs were for. He ends with, you should feel better soon while he gets up from his desk and we walk out.
It was all a whirlwind but as I walked out I considered he never once questioned my medical background, family medical history, other medicine I was currently taking, or ALLERGIES. And since he didn’t explain to me what the drugs were or what they were used for, how could he know that I wasn’t allergic to them? I, obviously, after buying the drugs as prescribed (~$20) went home and googled and wikipedia-d it all to make sure it looked reasonable. It appears from the lab results and the meds he gave me that I have an intestional yeast infection and a bacterial infection but since no culture was done I’m being treated with a broad spectrum antibiotic.
So I have antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and an anti-fungal to take for 5 days and then we’ll see. Reflecting back on it, for under $5 I got examined (albeit briefly), a prescription and an ultrasound- good luck getting that in the US- remember that’s BEFORE health insurance. I can’t say the healthcare is bad here from my experience but maybe a bit hurried and non-thorough? Maybe they have the same issue we have at the Guarderia, too many people too little time.
Friday Update: I’m starting to feel better but now the other person I work with at the Guarderia has an infection in her toe that’s making her feverish. Seriously we’re like the walking dead over there. 30 kids is too many for one person, in any culture.